A Super Pink Moon
Butterfly in lavender field and Super Flower Moon

A Super Pink Moon

20/04/2021Written by Malika Andress

On 26-27 April the UK will see the Super Pink Moon.

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mascot Telescope Right
Stargazer silhouetted against the Moon. Credit: Jordan Mansfield

On 26-27 April 2021, a Supermoon, named the Pink Moon, will be in the night sky, but what does this name actually mean for our closest cosmic companion, the Moon, and what will we be able to see in the UK?

Although it is often called a Pink Moon, it has other names including the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.

Supermoon

Supermoon
An image showing the difference between a supermoon and a 'normal' moon. Credit: Marco Langbroek

A ‘Supermoon‘ is the name given to the coincidence between a Full or New Moon and the point when the Moon is at its closest to the Earth.

This is only really noticeable during a Full Moon when it is bright and visible in the night sky. Because the Moon is closer to the Earth it appears larger in the night sky. But don’t believe the misleading images that make the Moon look enormous compared to its usual size. While the Moon does look bigger because it is closer to the Earth, the actual size increase is only around 14 percent.

This is still a noticeable size increase, especially when the Moon is close to the horizon, so definitely worth checking out on 26-27 April.

Naming the Full Moon

Naming the Full Moon
The red hue seen on the Moon during an eclipse. Credit: NASA

The names of Supermoons typically derive from people using the Full Moon as a way to track the changing seasons.

People could plan agriculture, moving animals, planting, harvests, hunting and all manner of important lifestyle decisions based on the lunar months.

A combination of Native American, Anglo-Saxon, and Germanic month names gave birth to the names commonly used for the Full Moon today.

A common misconception is that the Moon changes colour during this period. This, I’m afraid, doesn’t happen, however there have been recorded examples of when the Moon does ‘appear’ to turn blue. This happens when there are certain sized particles in the air, usually from volcanoes or forest fires.

We can also see the Moon becoming red, also known as a Blood Moon, during a lunar eclipse.

Why Pink for April?

Why Pink for April?
Butterfly in lavender field and Super Flower Moon

This month’s Full Moon is known as the Pink Moon for very obvious reasons, this is the month we see blossom start to appear, which people described as predominately pink.

The Full Moon in April was seen to correspond with a wildflower native to eastern North America, called Phlox subulata (creeping phlox or moss phlox), which also went by the name “moss pink.”

Other April Moon names refer to the season and what the tribes would see happening in the natural world; Breaking Ice Moon, Moon When the Streams Are Again Navigable, Budding Moon of Plants and Shrubs, Moon of the Red Grass Appearing, Moon When the Ducks Come Back, Moon When the Geese Lay Eggs and Frog Moon.

All of these would help people to plan their lives for farming, storing of food, hunting or moving encampments.